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Shamrocks, Timbermen set for WLA derby

‘You throw the records out the window when we play Nanaimo,’ says Shamrocks head coach Mike Simpson.
Victoria Shamrocks’ Casey Wilson gets around New Westminster Salmonbellies’ Luke Pilcher in WLA action at The Q Centre last Friday. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

It really doesn’t matter about the standings whenever the Victoria Shamrocks and Nanaimo Timbermen meet in the Western Lacrosse Association’s Island derby, the latest edition of which is tonight at 6:45 p.m. in the Q Centre.

“You throw the records out the window when we play Nanaimo,” said Shamrock head coach Mike Simpson.

For the record, however, high-flying Victoria is 11-0 atop the table and the Timbermen are 3-6-1 and tied for last at the foot of the table with the Burnaby Lakers.

“Their record is not indicative of their talent,” said Simpson.

“I would not be surprised if they put together a run.”

Victoria leads the three-game Island regular-season series against Nanaimo 1-0.

Many of these players came up playing with and against each other on the Junior Shamrocks and Junior Timberman. It’s sometimes a mix and match between the Island cities. Tom Vaesen, having a breakout season in Victoria, played his junior lacrosse in Nanaimo. Former world U-21 Canada player Levi Verch is from Victoria, but the Claremont grad out of NCAA Div. 1 Saint Joseph’s, is a defensive standout for the Timbermen. Nanaimo’s biggest star, Zach Manns, played for the Junior Shamrocks and the explosive NCAA Div. 1 Drexel graduate and NLL pro has 21 goals and 22 assists for 43 points in 10 games.

“We have to make sure Zach Manns doesn’t take over the game because he has the ability to do that,” said Simpson.

“He is a focal point whenever you play Nanaimo.”

Meanwhile, Simpson said the Shamrocks’ undefeated season to date is not something discussed in the dressing room: “We don’t even talk about it. We just keep grinding away. We are nowhere near accomplishing our goals.”

The way things are going, those aims now undoubtedly are about sewing up the WLA regular-season championship and following up with playoff success and representing the league in the 2024 Mann Cup national championship series to be played in Ontario.

Coaches rarely like to get ahead of themselves but this is an extremely well-balanced Shamrocks club. Every player has a role and plays it with few flaws.

“From top to bottom, we are the deepest team in the league,” Simpson did allow.

Following tonight’s Island derby, the Shamrocks will meet Burnaby on Friday night at the Q Centre.

IN THE CREASE: The Q Centre’s newly-installed air-cooling system will be used during a game for the first time tonight.

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